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The 6 Biggest Facebook Scams

by Christina DesMarais on December 04, 2012

Facebook now has a billion users, with more than half of those people signing on every month. Unfortunately, crooks and scammers are also part of the social network’s population—they figure at least a certain percentage of users will fall for their shenanigans.

According to Chester Wisniewski, senior security advisor at the security firm Sophos, the number of Facebook scams in play seems to be holding steady. And while Facebook is trying to tackle the problem, the scammers don't give up easily when they can profit off unsuspecting people.

How do you spot a Facebook scam? Be wary of unlikely promises, Wisniewski says.

“No one is giving away an iPad to every person who fills out a survey and you aren't likely the specially chosen winner of the Nokia, Microsoft or Coca-Cola lottery, because there isn't one,” he says. “The best practice is to avoid clicking links on Facebook at all. It is generally safe to click links from trusted pages of companies, bands and groups you like, but avoid clicking links from your friends' walls and chat messages.”

Here are popular Facebook scams you should watch out for.

Change Your Facebook Profile Color

This “color changer v1.3” is actually a survey scam application, and you definitely don’t want to give it access to your Facebook account. It promises to let you change your Facebook profile color to something other than blue. If you click on the link, it asks you to “like” the app before it even does anything for you, and if you click on “continue” you’ll land at an app permission page. If you authorize the app to access your Facebook account it will send spam messages to all your friends. Not only that, if you actually click to install the app, it won’t give it to you until you fill out a survey.

Free Gift Card or Voucher

If somebody on Facebook tells you Costco, McDonald's, Starbucks or any other company is giving away vouchers or gift cards if only you invite your friends to the offer or click on a link—don’t believe it. If you do, you’ll end up spamming all your contacts with bogus messages about the fake offer, be asked to participate in surveys or prodded to complete “reward offers” in which you may be asked for personal information. If you supply your name, address, phone number or other things to these dishonest marketers, they can sell your data to others as well as harass you via non-Facebook media.

Support a Wounded Soldier

Sophos recently reported that a popular post making its way through Facebook that purports to support wounded soldiers is, in fact, a hoax. The text of the post is a variation of the following:

When filling out your Christmas cards this year, take ONE CARD and SEND it to this address: A Recovering American Soldier, c/o Walter Reed Army Medical Center, 6900 Georgia Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20307-5001. If we pass this on and everyone sends one card, think of how many cards these soldiers could get to bring up their spirits! Feel free to repost. This is a wonderful thing to do !!

While idea seems like a good one, any cards sent in this manner will never reach an American soldier. According to hoax-busting site, the U.S. Mail will not deliver any letters or packages addressed to "Any soldier" or "Any wounded soldier" at Walter Reed, especially since Walter Reed closed its doors in 2011.

If you really want to send holiday mail to an unnamed service member, use the legitimate address found here.

Enticing Videos or Photos

This one can come through a Facebook post or email message. Either way, if someone invites you to check out a photo or video of something you just won’t believe—know that there’s most likely something nefarious waiting for you on the other side the link.

For instance, people who click on a link titled “Look what this girl wore at the beach in front of thousands of people!” will actually end up at what looks like a video feed, but if you click on it you’ll get a message saying you need to update your YouTube player. People who choose to install it actually are downloading malware to their computers. At the same time, hidden code will cause a Facebook “like” to appear on your Timeline, which will only encourage your friends who see it to also click on the bad video or photo lure.

A variation on this scam sends what looks like a Facebook notification to your email account, telling you that one of your friends tagged you in a new photo. If you’re curious and click on the attached ZIP file you will effectively unleash malware that will give hackers the keys to your Windows computer.

See Who’s Viewing Your Profile

This one claims to be able to tell you who is looking at your Facebook information, or as the scammers put it, “spying at your profile.” If you click on the link, you first have to “like” the app, which, again, only encourages your friends to click on the same bad link. From there, you’ll be asked to give the app permission to access your Facebook account. If you do so, not only will everyone on your friend list get a spam message from you, you’ll also be prompted to take various surveys—all without ever receiving information about who’s been spying on you.

Here’s what Facebook itself says about this popular scam:

Facebook does not provide a functionality that enables you to track who is viewing your timeline, or parts of your timeline, such as your photos. Third party applications also cannot provide this functionality. Applications that claim to give you this ability will be removed from Facebook for violating policy. You can report applications that provide untrustworthy experiences.

Copyright and Privacy Rights Protection Hoax

Recently there’s been a meme floating around Facebook that tells users that posting a particular legal notice to their Facebook wall allows them to retain the copyright of any content they post on the site as well as protect their rights to privacy. About this hoax Facebook says:

"There is a rumor circulating that Facebook is making a change related to ownership of users' information or the content they post to the site. This is false. Anyone who uses Facebook owns and controls the content and information they post, as stated in our terms. They control how that content and information is shared. That is our policy, and it always has been."

What to do if You Get Suckered

If, for some reason, you fall for one if these scams, make sure to remove any references to it from your profile and delete any bad app that has attached itself to your Facebook account. Do that by going to the small arrow on the top right of your screen, then Account Settings>>>Apps. Also, check whether you may have unknowingly "Liked" bogus sites or pages by going to your Timeline and clicking your "Likes" icon at the top of the page. Any Likes you don't recognize? Unlike them.

For more information about the various ways you can get scammed on Facebook, visit the social network’s scam page.


Computers and Software, Computer Safety & Support, Tips & How-Tos, Facebook, Tech 101

Discussion loading

Current fb scam Jan. & Feb. 2016

From Brenda Isaak on February 29, 2016 :: 12:56 am

I’m friends with others that have the same dogs as I do. A lady I wasn’t fb friends with “popped” up and said she can make a dog bed or blanket for anyone. So, since she was friends with my friend, I figured she was safe. WRONG!!
I asked her if she could make a cat blanket for my daughter by Valentines Day and gave her 3 weeks to do it. So, she did want want me to pay online at first and I do forget the name but it’s called something like:Wallet (something). I was told by a friend, that she can take any funds she wants from that. So, as hard as she tried, I said no and got her address.
Two weeks went by and we are both from the West Coast. Nothing came. She said she made it and sent it. She said, well, the mail is always getting mixed up. Then she mentioned how because of the bad snow on the East coast, that was probably the delay. East Coast? What does that have to do with it? She cashed my check of $25.00 and she said she’d send me off another. Well, Valentines Day came and went. It’s the very last day of the month. She tried sending me another for my grand baby that was born. Then, she says, okay, I made them both, send me $25 so I can send them both at the same time. I (wisely) said, Can you send me my daughter’s first and then I’ll send you payment for the other.
I then asked her for a picture of the blanket. She didn’t want to. Then she said she would. Then she said she got a migraine headache. Next day, she blocked me from contacting her and she never gave me her phone number even when I asked for it in the beginning. I bet she is scamming others. How do I report this to fb?


Nice Post

From Hilton on March 05, 2016 :: 6:22 am

Many thanks for share it. I have actually constantly seen similar things and also the fact I never ever just think.


About facebook scam

From Thomas_42 on March 31, 2016 :: 10:47 pm

That’s why I do not provide real info, I personally use fake details about me.


Faced too

From Shaikh Khalil on May 16, 2016 :: 6:00 am

I am also aware of this types of ads. & due to that I got virus in my PC & lost all Data.


philip martin scammer

From Smiljana Golic on August 16, 2016 :: 5:51 pm

Philip Martin is a scammer. He stole my photos and put on his FB profle. I was born in Croatia. I am on FB just 4 month and i did not know there are scammers on FB Woman please be careful! He is probably from Africa and he stole identity of some man. I read about it on internet.


I deleted apps I want back, anyideas?

From JR WEST on August 18, 2016 :: 1:51 pm

I can’t comment now (login through facebook required) a several apps I use regularly.
It creates two pop up (loggin in), that dissapears, then pops up again and doesn’t quit. Anybody have any ideas? Of course I can’t get an answer from facebook or any of the sites.


scams are like people they

From Dawson Taylor on September 07, 2016 :: 2:14 pm

scams are like people they are unreal to me thats why i ignore them…


wanting information from me to give me money

From Beth Ann Morrison on February 24, 2017 :: 6:17 am

I dont know how to check if this is a scam or not. i was approached by someone in france . to be beneficiary and give all her money except 20% to charitys in my country.
its about 11,000,000 therefore i would get around 2.5 million.
the lawyer she has wants lots of information to deposit the money.

what do I do?? 
how do i check out the lawyer
should i get a lawyer myself?


It's a scam

From Josh Kirschner on February 24, 2017 :: 11:16 am

This is the standard Nigerian 419 scam. Ignore it. Do not respond. Do not provide information.


whatsapp status in hindi

From Aarushi Sharma on April 03, 2017 :: 2:39 am

I am not mindful of this trick, but rather i had seen a few advertisements in which said my name in the title, I imagine that was some bug else it doesn’t look great.


About those ads with your name on them

From Mary Ann Bittle on July 31, 2017 :: 1:00 pm

Hi Darek,
The concern you have about those personalized ads, if you have not yet found out, is a relatively unwarranted one. It’s sort of similar to those old junkmail adverts, except the name is only inserted on your own screen. They use cookies placed on your computer to allow your image and name to be filled in as it gets displayed. Your information is still your own. However, if it is an annoyance, simply use an adblocker add-on for your browser. I use Ad-Block, myself, although there are others.


Umm Linux user

From Alex Cruz on October 19, 2017 :: 6:33 am

Your system can be infected and is not immune. Most of what the criminals want sit on windows based servers so they target them and most windows pcs’ Not your Mac or other linux based device.



From cindy Hurley on September 16, 2019 :: 8:44 am

I just got scamed pretty good I’m scared of all the. Electronics now one of my girlfriends had contacted me on Facebook from Elgin where we always hung out was strange but cool so that next morning I’m up early and she’s on facebook cheating with me telling me she just got a new truck and house then atate gave her a grant to help her with her bills she said Did you ever applie for a grant I said yes sure they never got back to me she said. You n2ed to call this guy has been looking for you she said I say your name on a peace of paper and he has money for you I aaid really well thats haw they got me he was good they have people working together ans put your friends in view so you think its real he got me for 200 dollars but all my personal information hw got as well and that was what hurt


The thing is about this

From Cindy Hurley on September 16, 2019 :: 8:56 am

The thing is about this scam is they are using my contacts and calling them to and putting pitchers of me up saying I won a truck and house and there is a Visio with me in it but I haven’t seen that I don’t know how to stop them


Report misuse to Facebook

From Josh Kirschner on September 16, 2019 :: 11:53 am

Depending on where your image/details are being used, there is always a way to report this misuse to Facebook (usually in the dropdown menu associated with that ad or post).

Also, did you ever report the scam to the police or your state attorney general’s office? They would be the ones who could go after the scammers to shut them down for good.


Coca Cola scam fb

From amanda simpson on May 21, 2021 :: 11:28 am

I just received a message on messenger saying if I pay so much I’ll receive like if I pay 25 doll or buy a google play card I’ll receive 650 doll total scam


Won money from FB

From Jeffrey Bliss on January 09, 2022 :: 4:08 am

I had an account with Facebook but I closed it I thought, now I got an email from someone saying there from there.
.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

It says I won $950,000, I never entered anything so I know it’s not real, even though I as most people could use $950,000.


Ridiculously easy challenges

From Rick Wills on January 18, 2022 :: 1:23 am

What is the point of these challenges, I.e. “Name a fish that doesn’t have the letter A in it”, as if anyone can’t do that (trout).
So are they grabbing information from your profile? Can’t find any other reason?


It's about page engagement

From Josh Kirschner on January 18, 2022 :: 10:56 am

Often these challenges are about trying to create a viral post that will drive content engagement and “Likes” for their page. High engagement on a post “may” cause the Facebook algorithms to show their future posts to more people and more Likes broadens their audience for future posts. Also, the fact that you commented on the post may be shown to your friends, furthering the virality.

I am in complete agreement with you, though, that these quizzes are extremely annoying, and we would stop seeing them if our friends don’t engage in the first place. If you have one friend who always seems to be the culprit, you may want to reach out to them or even unfriend, if necessary.


you didn't even mention the thousands of fake car ads?

From jim bennett on March 03, 2022 :: 5:54 pm

I see dozens of fake cars, trucks, motorhomes, and motorcycles posted on Facebook marketplace and Facebook does nothing to stop it.  Often it’s a perfect used truck for $800 or $1500 and it always says low miles, recent serviced, and ever had any issues.  When readers report these fake ads Facebook will block that one user from seeing that ad, but minutes later you find 4 more ads still up.  Facebook needs to stop trying to control personal friends only posts to push liberal values and maybe start cleaning up the garbage on their own sites.


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